The Book Every Woman Should Read: Money Lessons By Lisa Conway-Hughes

The Book Every Woman Should Read: Money Lessons By Lisa Conway-Hughes

Whether it’s advice from your parents, a friend or your accountant telling you how to manage your money, their opinion is often overlooked. However, Lisa Conway-Hughes’s new book, Money Lessons, throws the rule book out the window, teaching women how to be better with their money in a new and non-patronising way.

Right on the cusp of being a millennial, Lisa knows the problems that we’re facing as young people today. As such, this book is aimed at helping us to realise that no matter how big the wall of debt or the sea of money problems we find ourselves wading in, there’s always a way out of it – it just requires some strategic planning. Thanks to Lisa’s social media presence, her successful finance site, and her advice being featured in many major women’s publications, she was the ideal choice to write Money Lessons.

The idea behind this interactive book is that you don’t just learn by reading, but also by doing – many of the pages have diagrams and grids for you to fill in, from simple boxes to help you get out of debt, to sprawling, excel-like pages to keep on top of your wedding fund or the insurance policies you own. To the initiated, these look daunting, but once you’ve read Lisa’s logic behind it, it makes sense, and ultimately the lessons you learn become easier to apply to your own life.

Essentially, having a good, healthy relationship with money comes down to being rational and being prepared. One of Lisa’s catchphrases seems to be, “just because your friends are doing it, doesn’t mean you have to”. But it’s true – how many of us have fronted money we don’t have just to keep up with our friends? The words ‘hen party’ spring immediately to mind…

The thing that makes this book different, beyond its interactive elements, is the tone. It manages to strike an elusive balance, avoiding jargon and also removing any hint of condescension. It’s conversational, which is the way to grab the attention of the millennial reader it’s trying to speak to. People, regardless of age, fear what they don’t know, which is why books on finance can be such a turn-off. But Money Lessons does its best to pull us in, interest us, and convince us that money doesn’t have to be so scary or so complicated.

Beyond the big chapters like ‘Demolishing Debt’ and ‘Getting on the Ladder’, there’s some great little titbits that’ll just make your day-to-day run smoother, such as the apps that’ll help you stay on top of your finances and the easy ways you can improve your credit score. Some of the stuff Lisa talks about still sounds hard and terrifying at its very core, but she has a way of making you feel like you can do it. So, whether you’re in debt, looking to buy a house, or just a millennial trying to make some financial headway – no matter your situation, you should give Money Lessons a read.

12 things to know about Lisa and her finances…

I want everyone to realise that money doesn’t need to be complicated… This was always my aim with the book – that if you have a couple of money tricks and habits up your sleeve, that’s all you need to do the basics well.

This book reconfirmed some uncomfortable facts… We all know as a younger generation we’re not thinking about retirement like we should, that we’re too focused on property and not doing investment and pension planning for the future that we should be. It also really highlighted the gap between men and women – in the early stages women are better savers than men, but that quickly slips away and then men take the lead. That’s a confidence thing – women find it much harder to dip their toe without knowing all the facts, whereas men would typically just give it a go.

I’ve always been careful with money… As a student I juggled a couple of jobs. I didn’t want to be in debt, but I also wanted to be able to afford to go out a couple of times a week and buy a new outfit. Being sensible with money was a way to make sure I didn’t miss out. In my early twenties when I wasn’t earning much, I was still sensible, bringing in my lunches and keeping evening jobs going so I could be frivolous without feeling guilty.

I didn’t realise how much of financial advising was connecting with people… After university, financial advising sounded like something that paid well. I didn’t realise how much I’d enjoy it – you don’t think of it as something where the main skills are being able to chat to clients and get under their skin, understanding their motivations. It’s not just cold, hard maths.

Mental wellbeing was a big focus for me… So many of my clients are very wealthy and have brilliant jobs on the surface, but the reality is that they’re a bit broken. That comes at a price – usually that they hate their job. Just because your salary has an extra zero on the end, doesn’t necessarily make you happy. In my job, I see a lot of people who are anxious and stressed out, and money hasn’t been their saviour in that sense. But what they’re both missing is control – if you have control over the decisions you’re making, you’ll be much happier.

Most people get into debt because of FOMO… People like to try and keep up with their mates financially, and it’s the most common thing to get into debt over. It’s a huge issue, especially in a world where things are your status – every area of life comes with quite a high price tag these days.

It’s really important to have a positive attitude towards your finances… If you don’t, if you shy away from it and avoid tough questions, it can have a huge impact on your financial plan. That ultimately changes everything, from the property you buy, the age you retire, the holidays you go on, whether you work five days in a job you don’t like or three days in a job you love. So, I think the long-term consequence of not being good with money really adds up.

How careful you are with money comes down to personality… There are some extremely wealthy people who are frugal with their money, and there are low earners who are very good with their money. It’s nothing to do with how much you have, but your personality.

Millennials don’t have it easy when it comes to money… Property prices are higher than ever, salaries haven’t really gone up since the credit crunch, and there is also a lot of pressure to spend money where there wasn’t before. We don’t have the safety net our parents might have had, like pension schemes or a job for life – those things my parents took for granted aren’t there anymore.

To have a healthy relationship with money, automate your finances… The day you’re paid, standing orders should be set up to go into your savings or investments, into your bills and mortgage. Once that’s all done you can get a true picture of what you have left to spend.

Writing this book taught me a lot... I had a short deadline, but I also have a job and children – it was a lot of pressure. I’m an early riser now and I had to embrace that – every morning I was up at 5.15am and I would write. I’d try and do 1000 words a day. On the way into work I’d be writing, and on the way home I’d be researching what I was going to write the next day. It made me realise how much time you actually have in a day.

I want women to remember… Money is not a man’s world – women are really great at money when they learn how to do it right. Those three boxes I talk about in the book – your short, medium and long term – if you can get that right, along with budgeting, then you’re halfway there. 

Money Lessons is out now.

Money Lessons: How to manage your finances to get the life you want
Money Lessons: How to manage your finances to get the life you want

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